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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

6 Steps to Protecting Yourself When Shopping Online This Upcoming Holiday Season

Monday, November 14th, 2011

It’s holiday season again and I’m sure people are already starting to shop for gifts. If you’re buying online, check out these 6 tips to help you out and increase your chances of having a “safe” shopping experience:

  1. Research the company. Who are the owners? Is it a successful businesswoman from Texas or a teenager living in China? Take a few minutes and check out on the website who is actually behind the business and who operates the website.  Click to the “About Us” page or “Contact Us” page and see if there are some actual names listed on the website.  Then drop some of those names quickly into Google or Bing and search on those names.  What comes up about them?
  2. Find out where their servers are located. Are they based in France, but have a server in Ohio? (You’re probably alright with a company like this) or are they based in England and have a server in Somalia (this should send up a red flag.)  Also, make sure to check out where their website is hosted. Here is a great tool to use to look up domain owners here. It is called Domain Tools. I use it all the time when I am shopping.
  3. Check their website thoroughly. Is there anything in their wording that seems fishy? Are there typos on the website or does the footer of the website say copyright 2002? Does calling that phone number give you someone asking for your pizza order? Confirm that the business is legitimate before buying that scarf for Aunt Joan. Perhaps this post on how to make online websites look credible will help you see what to look for when you are reviewing the four corners of an online store or service business?
  4. Is the business on any Social Networks? Being on social networks like Twitter and Facebook can show that a company is willing to have some transparency when dealing with customers. What type of personality does the business have online? Does it come off as a company that you don’t want to do business with?  Check their Twitter stream or Facebook page and see do they respond to customers or is there just a username set up and just “dead air.”  If you see some level of engagement, that is a good sign.
  5. What are people saying about the businessonline? Most companies will have some type of reviews of them online.  What are people saying about them in these reviews? How about their products, customer service and delivery times?  Can you really trust those reviews? If the reviews sound fake, you might want to check into the company a bit more. Remember our post on how to spot fake reviews? It’ll help!
  6. Do they have a trust seal or an ssl certificate? When you are reviewing a website you are about to buy from check out whether they have an SSL certificate meaning that your communications of your credit card information is encrypted from your browser to the company’s browser.  Also look to see if the business has any trust seals and in particular click on those trust seals and see what they say about the business.  The sites that have trust seals that actually give you more information about the business management team, their track record of financial health and information on customer service, return and privacy policies will give you even more transparency into who you are buying from over this holiday season.

Good luck and stay safe when shopping online!  Also let us know if you have any safe shopping tips.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Shocking Results in Recent OTA Findings: Should YOU Feel Safe on the Internet?

Friday, May 27th, 2011

As cybercriminals become more advanced and efficient, all businesses must recognize and prepare for the imminent threats of online hackers. The issue of cyber-attacks has made its way to the Senate, debating the amount of power the president should have in dealing with cybercrimes (Full story here).

Similarly, in accordance with the looming threat of online fraud and cybercrime, the Online Trust Alliance (OTA) released their annual Online Safety Honor Roll and Scorecard two weeks ago, revealing the many insecurities of the internet. Their findings were very surprising, making me question my privacy and safety on the internet. Two of the most shocking discoveries include:

  • Only 26% of the top websites and government agencies evaluated by the OTA were recognized for their adoption of the best, most efficient technologies to help protect users’ privacy and identity. This means that 74% of the top websites used by millions of people have not implemented safe measures that protect against malicious emails and rogue websites. Organizations that made the Honor Roll enacted email authentication processes, Extended Validation SSL Certificates, and testing for malware and known site vulnerabilities. More than 500 million emails originated from the organizations lacking efficient online security measures. These facts demonstrate that we are not protected on the majority of sites we visit and are members of, and therefore we must consider reevaluating websites before giving them any of our personal information.
  • Social media, e-commerce, and financial services ranked higher in securing their sites than government agencies.  About 27% of the FDIC 100 and 24% of the Fortune 500 qualified for the Honor Roll, though only 12% of government agencies made the list. It doesn’t make me feel particularly safe that government agencies’ websites are some of the most vulnerable to cybercrime attacks. The government and its various agencies should be the ones protecting us, enacting the proper online security protocols and trying to set an example, not being most susceptible to malware.

This report is extremely important for both e-commerce shoppers and small businesses. Online shoppers must realize the dangers of registering on sites that may be unsafe and prone to cyber-attacks and abuse. Therefore, they will seek out websites that have the proper preventative online security measures, and will most likely buy from the large, reputable online websites. This will in turn hurt small businesses that lack a reputation in online safety, and are trying to flourish in e-commerce.  This makes it even more important that for small businesses to succeed that they clearly demonstrate to the public their record of trustworthiness and reliability so potential customers are ensured that the small business they’re dealing with can be trusted.

The OTA’s full 2011 Online Safety Honor Roll and Scorecard can be found here: https://otalliance.org/news/releases/2011scorecard.html.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

We’re So Money…Or I Mean, We So Need to Figure Out the Money Issue

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Our little enterprise at KikScore is growing.  We have a long list of customers and are in process of integrating with several different channels.  That’s the good news for our business.  The bad news is that we’re just starting to charge for the service and we constantly throwing in our own cash to feed the growth.  Like it or not, we need to make a decision about funding.  And it’s looking like our choices are pretty familiar to other growing startups: Friends and Family vs. Angels vs. Venture Capital vs. Self Funding.  After talking to several capital sources and other startups, here’s my analysis of these choices:

Friends and Family:  First thing, you don’t actually be related or friendly with this investor group.  It’s a group of people you know that have money.  You may get money from this group, but it may not enough to fully fund the venture and the investors may not be completely clear on the risks of a startup investment.

Angels:  This group is certainly aware of risks of their investment and have ready access to capital.  But they are generally less willing to fully fund a venture (compared to Venture Capital), but are still in your business.  So you now have a boss, but not the free-flowing cash to stock up your office with cool gear and get a SuperBowl ad.

Venture Capital:  You get the money and the contacts.  But everyone is going after investment from the top VC outfits…and they are generally looking for a business that has a strong balance sheet, several partners and a lot of buzz.  In other words, a business that doesn’t need the money.

Self Funding:  You’re  the boss, you control your business completely.  And you’re constantly kicking in money. 

After contemplating the options, we’re sticking with option #4…unless you want to just gift us some money with no strings attached.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Two Worlds Clashed and Delivered this Awesome Margarita Machine

Friday, March 18th, 2011

In one of the classic Seinfeld episodes, George Costanza doesn’t want his girlfriend to become chummy with his friends…as his worlds would collide and all would be lost.  Well, recently during some shopping tasks the online and offline shopping worlds have collided and I couldn’t be more excited. 

I could bore you with a story about how we saved some money on a recent home renovation purchase, but let’s get down to the brass tacks – thanks to the colliding worlds, I scored a very nice Jimmy Buffet Margaretville Fiji Series margarita machine. 

This baby does it all, margaritas, daiquiris, pina coladas and smoothies (who the hell cares about smoothies, but it is a feature, so I thought I’d mention it).  I’ve been coveting this beverage maker for a while – but it’s been a bit price prohibitive.  Something like $350 for a fancy blender that shaves ices didn’t seem like a prudent use of savings.

Then the world collision occurred…thanks to the ole’ iPad.  My wife was at a retail store and saw the gleaming beauty on the shelf…but with the same outrageous price.  However, she found it the store’s online store for $199.  Suddenly, margaritas at the dojomike household were flowing.

Let’s go over a few rules with this device:

  1.  Measure the amount of alcohol:  When you’re at home making margaritas, it’s easy to wing it.  Ok, that’s fine with the first pitcher.  But pitcher number two, your ability to wing it becomes clouded.
  2. Adding fruit improves the taste, but the alcohol level remains the same.
  3. The theory of the “ice will water down the alcohol” doesn’t work.

Now go out there let your worlds collide.  And while you’re out there, can you pick me up some lime juice?

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

ThunderSnow! What Your Business Needs!

Friday, February 4th, 2011

The past few weeks the U.S. as seen its fair share of Winter weather.  Last week D.C. shut down and KikScore co-founder, Raj, had to take refuge at a bar for several hours.  Not really sure how that is different from a normal day with perfect weather, but I digress. 

But the biggest storm of the season was the blast this week.  20 inches of snow hit Chicago, but more importantly, so did“ThunderSnow!”  This is a combination of a snow storm and thunder.  It’s happened twice this year (that have been televised) and the Weather Channel is freaking out about it.  Why?  I have no idea.

Neither of these two things (snow or thunder) really are that exceptional.  It’s not like a hundred foot wave crest that sunk the Andrea Gail.  No, it’s just the combination of two ordinary things that rarely happened together.  Or if they do happen together, it’s not ordinarily captured on tape. 

So, you have two common things, that may or may not happen concurrently.  I guess that’s exciting.  But what really is the sizzle is the name — ThunderSnow!  I think you have to include an exclamation point after you right that.  ThunderSnow! sounds like a  lame cartoon hero.  It sounds so much more awesome than it really is….sort of like the McRib (mmmm…McRibbbbbb).

That’s the beauty.  The name has you hooked.  The idea of ThunderSnow! is way better than the reality…sort of like my Toyota Prius…in traffic…in a snowstorm…or under ThunderSnow!  So, I guess my point to this (other than getting to write about the ThunderSnow!) is that you can have a decent, ordinary product, but if you market it correctly, or have the Weather Channel freak out about it, it can turn into a sensation. 

Speaking of which, maybe we should change our name to KikSnow!!

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Does Your Business Name Really Matter?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Like all new businesses, when we were coming up with a name for our product, we struggled a bit.  We had to balance the availability of a “.com” domain, making sure the name is protect-able from a trademark perspective, and that the name would actually convey a sense of what we do.  This may be wrong,  but we wanted to focus on a “.com” domain, and one that spelled out our product name (not “who you gonna trust.com”). 

We looked for available domains (because we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a domain name), and then applied the next level of filter — conveying a sense of what we do.  We looked at a lot of “trust” type names, but none really seemed to work.  Then we focused on “score” and “scoring”.  There were many more options.

Finally we looked at the list in terms of what is the best from a trademark perspective.  If the name is too literal, it can’t be protected (e.g. www.transparencyseal.com”).  It has to be a bit unrelated (e.g. apple computers). 

There is no real surprise if you’re reading this blog that we wound up with KikScore.  But did all this brain damage over a name actually matter?  I mean, most of our traffic comes from other sources — like our partners, twitter or paid search clicks.  In other words, it feels like we could have named the product anything we wanted to and the traffic would come.  But is that really the case?  Maybe becaue of our name, people feel like partnering with us?  Maybe we wouldn’t have any traffic from Twitter if our name was “BreadScore” (though that just gave me a new business idea)?

What are your thoughts?  Does a name, in the beginning, really matter?

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

What Makes a Good Partnership for Your Business

Friday, October 1st, 2010

No matter what type of product or service your business provides, the question of partnerships will come up.  There are several types of structures a partnership can take,  but it usually breaks down into two real forms: Complementary and Marketing.  Complementary relationships focus on offering a service to an existing platform (and group of potential customers for your business).  Marketing relationships is really just an offshoot of that, but the focus is less on filling a need than attracting the attention of an audience. 

Which is right for your business really depends on your product and the potential audience.  For example, we here at KikScore just announced an integration with Shopster.  To us, it really is an ideal arrangement.  First off, it broadens the awareness of our product and has been generating a lot  of new customers.  But it also filled a need for Shopster — providing a cutting edge trust/security service for its platform customers.  In other words, we’re providing a service that is needed to a customer base that we both want to reach. 

Sounds pretty straightforward, right?  But it’s not.  You need to find the right partner.  Our integration and relationship with Shopster would never be successful if we didn’t share the same view about customer service and quality. It’s hard enough to build concencus with your own team, but unless you communicate well with your partner, and are on the same page, things can get really difficult.

We’re feeling pretty good about our newest partnership, and we’re excited about the buzz it’s creating, but it only reinforces all the preparation and deliberation we took in working with Shopster.  So here’s to partnerships and finding the right one.  We feel we did.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Online Business – Necessity Or Luxury?

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Is your favorite restaurant or local boutique online?    Would you be more likely to purchase something from the local boutique if you could order the latest chenille scarf from your bedside table?

Website hosting companies such as Shopster have made it very simplistic to create a new website and start selling online in minutes.   Having an online site builds trust between consumer and merchant because it can allow a browse before you buy (or eat).   Yet there are still a great number of local restaurants and shops that are reluctant… why?

With the boom of social media, not having a site could be detrimental to your company’s future success.

There are other ways to be active in the online community without a dedicated ‘full’ website.   Creating a dedicated company blog promotes trust and transparency by sharing your company values, and can be done without a full website.

You may think if you only have one or two items to sell, a website is overkill. Even if it’s just one product (such as this unique product for avid boaters -TuftedTopper), the mass consumer base enjoys the convenience of online purchasing. As a merchant, you need to determine what drives the intrigue in your product base.

You’re here reading this, do you have an online business?

How have you built trust and transparency between yourself and your consumers to create repeat customers?

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

Customer Service 2.0: Is the Phone Number Dead?

Friday, August 27th, 2010

First off, you know you’re getting old when you begin a blog post with the phrase “this new generation”…and then comment on how things used to be done.  Of course, you’re probably not that old if you’re writing a blog post in the first place, but my point is, when you start noticing differences, you’re aging is noticeable.

But this new generation has a different view towards customer service.  In my day (ahhh, the 90′s…Nirvana was popular, there were new “Twilight” books, and I had a full head of hair), customer service meant an 800 number.  A big break through was an email address, but you never really relied on getting a message back…so you called customer service to get an answer.

As our customer base at KikScore grows, there is something very noticeably absent — that would be phone calls.  Instead, people are looking at our product videos, sending us emails, asking questions on Twitter.  It’s great in many respects — phone calls are time consuming to process and that costs money.  But the written word and videos often don’t convey specifically the information what a customer is looking to get…so it can either result in a frustrating customer experience or it results in a lot of interaction to get a question answered.

So, I’m getting older and I can roll with the punches and not complain about how things have changed…but I’m not sure if the extinction of the phone number is a good thing.

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Posts Tagged ‘online shopping’

HP's Former CEO: Trust Problems and Bad Judgment

Monday, August 9th, 2010

As I’m sure a lot of you have read, HP’s CEO, Mark Hurd, resigned last week.  It wasn’t due to poor earnings or prospects for growth.  In fact, a lot of people credit Mr. Hurd for turning things around for HP over the last several years.

Nope.  Mr. Hurd resigned because he was caught lying on his expense reports.  There was an ongoing investigation over complaints of sexual harassment.  To avoid disclosing the relationship with one of his assistance, which he apparently spent company money on, he mischaracterized why he incurred certain expenses.

So, Hurd resigns and is getting $20M-$50M in severeance payments.

Few questions that come to mind on this:

1.  Hurd made millions of dollars every year.  Could he not cover the expense of some dinners and drinks on his own and not expense it?  Is it worth saving $2,000/year at the expense of your job and stock options? 

2.  Why is he getting his severance paid?  Usually most severance packages are conditioned on the executive not resigning due to fraud.  I’m no lawyer (ok, maybe I am), but submitting false expense reports seems to be fraudulent. 

3.  Did he have to have an affair with his assistant?  I mean, it is so cliche.  Couldn’t he have at least run away with his massage therapist.  This whole having an affair with an assistant is the main reason why my wife won’t allow us to hire an assistant at KikScore.  I’m having to open the mail, return phone calls, shred incriminating documents all by myself.  It’s overwhelming.

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